November 26th, 2007
08:39 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama: Yes, I inhaled—that was the point

Obama discussed his past drug use Saturday.

AUDUBON, Iowa (CNN) - Earlier this week in New Hampshire Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke candidly about his past experimentation with drugs and alcohol in high school, and on Saturday—after a question on medicinal marijuana—Obama was prodded a bit further and asked whether or not he had ever inhaled.

"I did," the senator from Illinois said to light applause. "It's not something I'm proud of. It was a mistake as a young man."

The question was a reference to a line made famous by former President Bill Clinton who, while admitting to trying marijuana, said he did not inhale.

"I never understood that line," Obama continued. "The point was to inhale. That was the point."

On the campaign trail on Saturday, GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney said Obama's earlier comments set a bad example for young people.

"I agree with the sentiment that nobody's perfect and most of us, if not all of us, in our youthful years have engaged in various indiscretions we wouldn't want to have paraded in the front of a newspaper," the former Massachusetts governor said in New Hampshire. "On the other hand if we're running for president, I think it's important for us not to go into details about the weaknesses and our own failings as young people for the concern that we open kids thinking that it's ok for them."

On the issue of medicinal marijuana, Obama said that if the "best way to relieve pain and suffering is through medicinal marijuana," then it's something he's open to.

He added it would concern him much more if people were allowed to grow their own to use whenever they were simply "feeling really tense" and "needed a joint."

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • Race to '08
soundoff (494 Responses)
  1. Tim, Cincinnati, OH

    Although I'm a Republican, I respect Obama for his honesty on this isuue. No Clintonesque double-talk here. I smoked marijuana as a college kid and, yes, the point is to inhale!

    November 25, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. jean,derry,nh

    What an honest guy.
    Barack 08!

    November 25, 2007 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    Considering GW Bush did cocaine as a youth, I hope not to see any republicans calling Obama on this. Like it or not, a large percent of people at least try pot, and many professionals would argue its not even as bad as cigarettes. It would be foolish for him to lie about it or even try to brush it off, so I'm happy he didn't.

    November 25, 2007 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  4. Jay, Marble Falls

    Who cares if he inhaled or not. Most Americans have done something in their past that was illegal. It shows that he is human. I wished that the media would stop asking this question as it is irrelevant to seeking political officee. Obama for President.

    November 25, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. Musselman, NC

    OK, that is the honesty and openness that I have been looking for in my choice for President. I am a user for pain, although not legal in most states. If our government would do the distribution and sales of the evil weed, we could eliminate many dealers and fill our financial coffers to fix many tax problems facing our country. Also I AM for change, our government has become a corporate entity through its close relationship to the many lobby finances which it so heartily embraces. I am finishing my post and going to the closest Obama for President site I can get to, He is now my guy. Thanks for the honesty Barak!

    November 25, 2007 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  6. Adam, Plano, TX

    This guy is a buffoon. So what's the moral of the story? Instead of giving his plans for America, he is fixated on whether he inhaled or not. We have heard it before, please move on, address the issue that you couldn't articulate time and time again, in the debates.
    Posted By Jeremy : November 25, 2007 6:27 am

    you act as if these were the only things said at all during this q&a. its just the only thing CNN will report on. who's the buffoon now?

    November 25, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. John Moore Columbus Ohio

    Being honest,telling the truth about weaknesses.What I hear is a rolemodle telling people that an admitted mistake in youth, is not the life sentence many would have you believe. He and countless more have proven that.

    November 25, 2007 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. Dan, Milwaukee, WI

    These posts just demonstrate the serious lack of dialogue in our culture.

    Several people take the same event and twist it to support their pre-determined stance.

    November 25, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  9. Steve, Chelsea, MI

    alan St Louis MO

    said this:


    you do realize that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative of the Democrats running, right? I'll vote for her if she's on the ticket in Nov 08, but I'll be voting against her in the primaries. If you knew my views, you'd think that I'm one of those hard left liberal nutcases.

    November 25, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. cicilia,nashua,nh

    I have a brother who heard Obama say he did use drugs. My brother has been struggling with drug in high school and in college in and out of rehabs. When he heard this he has been following sen. Obama with all his speaches and encouragement since he really wanna be a good person. This weekend he told my mom he will try his best to put this behind him and make a better person out of himself. I think we have been so much used to be distant apart from our presidents and our politicians. I want to volunteer for Obama if he can make my brother feel better about himself and change his life.

    November 25, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  11. Mike, Grand Junction, co

    It's not that he is fixated on the subject he was asked a question and answerd it. It's CNN that is making it an issue. I personaly respecttghe man for being honest unlike ou current administration. Obama 08

    November 25, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  12. james,ct

    This is what is known as honesty to the core. I have never heard such a guy turn the lies dominated politics with the truth. Each time I hear Hillary talk all what I think are lies and I am so turned off to listen to her.
    I am voting for Obama.

    November 25, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    So who cares? He still is poorly equipped for President. We just finished trying to train one-who was resistant to what the majority of Americans desire. Do we really want to experiment another 4 years?

    November 25, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  14. steve,malden,ma

    Some of this stuff are more than therapy. I think Obama is bringing mental cure too . I just want someone I can believe and it has to start with self.

    November 25, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. jj

    New person, new hope new life in America.
    Obama 08!

    November 25, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Marge Hibbing, MN

    So we have a president(?) who took drugs incessantly. Who went AWOL because he couldn't pass a pee test to determine if he used drugs, and the press is stalking a man who said he inhaled several times when smoking a joint.

    Two sides of the same coin over and over. The republican owned and controlled press stalk this man because he is a democrat and let the president off the hook because he was a republican..Hot darn it figures.

    November 25, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  17. Jp,burlington,vt

    You go Barack!
    We certainly have reasons to be opmistic..........

    November 25, 2007 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. jb,boston,ma

    I am voting for Sen. Obama because of a number of reasons. This being one. Honesty is all what I am looking for this time around.

    November 25, 2007 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  19. Janessa, NL, Canada

    Should there be so much emphasis on drug use in the past, especially as far back as high school, for these candidates considering the country already elected someone for President who has a sketchy substance abuse past, and for things much worse than marijuana?

    November 25, 2007 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. giannis, Rhodos, Greece

    It still amazes me, are men really that dump?
    How many years does it take for some one to see the truth?

    I feel like a third person looking at a 40 year old telling a 5 year old what is right and wrong. US Government is the 40 year old by the way. What's that called again ... psychology of the masses I think. pffff little fish... you deserve what you get. Good luck with your "future".

    November 25, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. Collin, Chicago Illinois

    How many people at the age at which he did this were thinking "hey you know what I'm going to run for president some day so maybe I shouldn't do this."

    I don't condone drug use in anyway, but to hold stuff like this against a candidate when they were in high school/college and had no idea what their career path would be is crazy.

    What if all the stupid stuff we did as kids came out during an interview wouldn't we be criticized as well? We are far from perfect but politicians have it worse and I WILL never go into politics because everything they do gets attacked by the media

    November 25, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  22. Louies Mays IOWA

    This guy is a loser, HILLARY is the ONLY Choice for 2008 president! she has the experience...

    November 25, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. jfz, napa, ca

    Obama inhaled. Clinton didn't. Who's lying?

    November 25, 2007 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. Dennis, AK

    My daughter just emailed me this link, and she said that "if presidential candidates can smoke cigarettes and pot, why is it such a bad thing?" Shame on Obama for making it look ok to smoke. It's so horrible for your health (pot has more tar then cigarettes!)

    November 25, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. Mike STL

    For crying out loud! What is you peoples' deal? If anyone thinks the "left winged nutcases" are eating this up. Look at Romney! He bashes Obama for TELLING THE TRUTH????? And yet there are people here doing the same?????

    Either I cant read straight, or my brain just had a serious cramp, or people really need to slap themselves. Let me explain this for those who are uneducated about how this system is SUPPOSED to work.....

    When you go to vote and your deciding a candidate you want someone who is of character.

    A person of character is one who holds true values like honor and integrity among others.


    This man just got two more respect points in my book.

    Now if someone will find me ONE republican who will confess his mistakes THEN i might question my sanity.....

    November 25, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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